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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grief - Is There A Right Way?

Yesterday was my m-i-l's funeral.  It was a beautiful service, one with quiet dignity that I hope she would have loved.  It is my fondest wish that she is now resting peacefully, safe in the arms of her husband.

I went back to work this afternoon to get ready for a trip tomorrow. Reflecting back on my day I started thinking of how those around us who are not actually involved react.  All my work colleagues have been wonderful and caring and very supportive.  But it was interesting how each one treated me so differently today when I returned.

One held my hand when I went in to see her about what we needed to take to complete our trip together.  Nothing more, nothing less than briefly holding my hand as I sat next to her - but that simple gesture meant so much - I was free to talk about it if I wished, but it was also okay for me to just be there to deal with what needed to be done - there was no pressure to explain all that had occurred but she was there for me if I needed it.  She knew just what I needed - something so simple that meant so much.

The one I share my office with, who was away caring for her own ill mother when my m-i-l died simply stood up and hugged me and told me she missed me - again no pressure but a lovely feeling of shared friendship.

One of the people whom I supervise came in after a while and said she was so sorry and hoped my husband and I were okay - which must have been hard for her as she hasn't worked with me for that long and lost her own mother not so long ago.  Again there was no pressure to tell all.

One pumped me for information, while another said nothing at all.

Then there was my boss - he was concerned about both myself and my husband (he knows him well) but in the course of the conversation he ended up confronting my sensibilities without even realising he had done so.  This has been the way with much of our working relationship, one of over 20 years, so I shouldn't be shocked.  

But he made me realise that I have a concept of how one should deal with one's grief - but that maybe my reality was not that of others.  

To be honest I had never considered that there could be any other way, after all, doesn't one cry, become emotional, maybe even get a little angry before coming to accept that life has been lost - that it has come to its natural end. That we spend time reflecting on what has been lost, that we mourn the life that it gone, never to be with us again.  That even when that end seems too soon, in the scheme of life we all have been given the number of steps we take prior to our being born and that we really can't do a lot to change that.  

His concept is that we just move on, almost like that after the funeral is over, that's it, no more reflection or feelings of loss - just its over.  Now he has not lost either of his parents - but then again neither have I.  His are probably closer to the end than mine - but maybe not as I said no-one really knows that.  

This concept seems so foreign to what I assume is the norm but if nothing else it makes me realise that I am transferring how I think grief should be onto those I care about around me.  Now it is not that I think that they are doing it wrong, I am not that insensitive, but I worry that if they don't go through all the steps (albeit my view of the steps) that they haven't dealt with their grief and that it will come back and overwhelm them later.  Could I be so wrong?  Or is it just that he has not had to deal with the grief of losing someone close to him?


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